The Miami Hurricanes went into the state capital Wednesday night looking to end one streak and extend another. They did both.
Led by Shane Larkin’s 22 points, No. 3 Miami snapped a six-game losing streak at Tucker Center while winning its 12th game in a row with a 74-68 victory over Florida State.
“That was a heck of a college basketball game. It wasn’t decided until the very last 10 seconds,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “We were fortunate enough to win.”
With the win, Miami became the first team to start 11-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 12 years. North Carolina was the last team to start its ACC schedule at 11-0 a dozen years ago.
FSU got off to a hot start, opening up on a 13-2 run that gave Seminoles fans an early reason to hope for an upset. But the quick lead was more a product of Miami’s slow start than FSU’s elevated level of play.
The Hurricanes quickly snapped to attention, led by senior center Reggie Johnson (14 points, eight rebounds), and reeled off a 25-5 run to take control of the game.
“Reggie really delivered. We were behind, he helped us come back,” Larranaga said. “I really thought Reggie was the difference.”
After having success in the paint during the opening minutes, the Hurricanes (20-3, 11-0) relegated FSU (13-11, 5-6) to shooting mid- and long-range jump shots for the rest of the first half.
Miami, meanwhile, shot 73.9 percent in the opening half, outrebounded the Seminoles 12-7 and — despite FSU’s early run — easily headed into the locker room with a 38-30 lead.
FSU didn’t go quietly in the second half, though.
Using an offensive outburst from Terry Whisnant, the Seminoles clawed their way back into the game behind back-to-back three pointers from the sophomore guard. Whisnant followed up with a couple free throws before junior forward Okaro White tipped in the tying basket with 10 minutes remaining to even the score at 51. White led FSU with 15 points.
But Miami’s offense quickly got back to work behind Larkin, who scored 13 of his 22 points in the final 71/2 minutes. After retaking a 61-55 lead, Larkin hit a couple of layups before drilling a three-pointer with just over four minutes left to give Miami its biggest lead of the night.
“My teammates, man, they just set great screens for me,” Larkin said. “Reggie [Johnson] set multiple great screens up top and got me open, and I just knocked down the shot. That’s the easy part.”
FSU mounted one last-ditch effort to get back into the game.
Ian Miller hit back-to-back runners to cut the Hurricane lead to five with just two minutes remaining. Minutes later, after trading turnovers, FSU freshman guard Devon Bookert hit a layup and the subsequent free throw to cut the deficit to three.
But it wasn’t enough.
Miller had a chance to tie with 20 seconds remaining but his three-pointer rimmed out, sealing the game for the Hurricanes.
“We’re playing great basketball right now, but on any given night anyone can come out and give you a great test like Florida State did [Wednesday night],” Larkin said. “We’re definitely not unstoppable. We’ve got to come out focused every night and play with great energy.”